Around the mountains: Can the night get any darker for real estate? |

Around the mountains: Can the night get any darker for real estate?

ALLEN BESTspecial to the dailySummit County, CO Colorado

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS The end-of-year real-estate reports were not unexpected. From Aspen to Steamboat Springs to Vail, the reports at the major resort areas are about the same: 40 to 55 percent less dollar volume was recorded in 2008, compared with the previous year.In Steamboat Springs and surrounding areas, dollar volume for last year was 45.7 percent of the preceding year. Altogether, $725 million in sales were reported, according to Land Title Guarantee Co.In the Vail market, sales were down 52 percent last year, with a final tally of $2.75 billion. In the Aspen market, sales were down 46 percent in dollar volume, to $1.37 billion. The Glenwood Springs/Garfield County market down-valley from both Aspen and Vail had similar numbers: 51 percent less volume, down to $723 million.The number of transactions was also down significantly in all these markets. However, even when dollar volume had been increasing in recent years, there had been fewer transactions. One year when the Vail/Eagle Valley market increased 10 percent in dollar volume, there had been fewer transactions.In Teton County, Wyo., the number of transactions was down by 50 percent. No drop in dollar volume was reported by the Jackson Hole News & Guide. But the newspaper notes that transactions had fallen 19 percent during the dot-com bubble burst of 2000 and another 22 percent in the fallout of 9/11.In Utah, the Park City market was still at $1 billion for 2008, but that was the lowest since 2004, noted the Park Record. The number of transactions during the fourth quarter was the lowest since 1992. Still, real-estate agents tell the Park Record they think it cant get any worse and will soon get better. Im seeing the market going from being stuck to picking up in small increments, said Jess Reid, of Jess Reid Real Estate. Its frozen, but it will thaw out, said Jim Lewis, of Summit Sothebys. Its always darkest before the dawn, and its pretty dark now, In Aspen and Vail, the contraction in sales has yielded a similar contraction in sales offices. The greater upheaval was in Aspen, where a real-estate company dropped its franchise for Aspen Sothebys International Realty. The franchise agreement is being acquired by another firm, Morris and Frywald Real Estate, a firm founded in 2000 that has grown to almost 50 brokers. Citing the firms website, The Aspen Times reports the firm did $242 million in sales last year.

WINTER PARK It sounds almost like a man-bites-dog story. The Sky-Hi Daily News tells of taxi driver who pulled a handgun on two men whom he had just transported to their hotel. The cabbie blamed the passengers for escalating the disagreement over the price into near violence, and the passengers laid all the blame on the 26-year-old driver. Law enforcement seems to think the driver shouldnt have been brandishing the pistol.

HAILEY, Idaho Hens but no dawn-announcing roosters would be allowed in Hailey, located down-valley from Ketchum and Sun Valley, according to new regulations drawn up by town planners. The planners are proposing a variety of measures that collectively seek to reduce the environmental impact of the town.One measure, for example, would allow so-called mother-in-law housing units on otherwise single-family lots, delivering more affordable housing without causing the town the place where Sun Valleys so-called worker bees tend to live to sprawl. Another proposal would allow rooftop-mounted solar panels anywhere in the city, while free-standing solar arrays such as might be erected in backyards or vacant lots would have get conditional-use permits.The proposal, reports the Idaho Mountain Express, would allow three chickens per household, which is considered sufficient to egg on a family of four. The chickens also would consume nine pounds of kitchen waste each per month. However, those experienced with chickens require plenty of wire, to keep foxes and dogs out of the coops.

PARK CITY, Utah JPMorgan Chase, the giant banking company, has canceled two corporate outings to the Deer Valley resort in Park City.The group had been booked at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, where listed room rates run from $750 to more than $2,000 per night. The bank had booked a retreat for 103 people. The loss is a major dent in Park Citys economy. I think who suffers the most were the line employees the bellmen, housekeepers, Jan Raio, the director of sales and marketing at the lodge, told the Park Record.Its not the first group, especially the financial group, weve seen cancel, said Bill Malone, chief of the Park City Chamber/Bureau.

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